London, June 2 : The Indian sub-continent accounted for more than six lakh people who migrated to Britain during the 15 years ending 2006, followed by the Africans who accounted for more than 450,000, a new research has found.
It said that more than two million foreign nationals had moved to Britain in recent years and nine in 10 of them came from outside Europe.
MigrationwatchUK, a pressure group, has calculated that a net 2.3 million immigrants arrived in Britain between 1991 and 2006, the majority of them from developing economies in Africa and Asia, reported The Telegraph.
Only 205,000, or eight per cent, came from the East European nations that have joined the European Union since 2004, according to Migrationwatch's analysis of official population statistics. The group said the scale of non-European immigration undermined the Government's claims on migration patterns and laws.
Ministers have repeatedly rejected calls for an annual cap on immigration, arguing that it would not have any significant impact because it could not affect EU nationals, who have a legal right to enter Britain to work.
Sir Andrew Green, Migrationwatch's chairman, said the figures should shift the focus of debate about immigration away from eastern Europeans and towards citizens of developing countries. "As public concern has increased supporters of immigration have tried to give the impression that the majority come from the new EU member states and that in time, as their economies improve, they will return home - thus implying that public fears are groundless," he said.
Green added: "But the Government's own figures show that this is far from the case. They also give the lie to those who claim that there is no point in immigration controls that do not apply to EU citizens."
A separate report from the Work Foundation warned that a "climate of hostility" towards foreign workers could ultimately harm the economy by deterring the skilled workers British firms needed. "The UK's best bet for making the most of globalisation is to tap the increasing flows of highly-qualified people around the world. The UK needs to be seen, along with the US, Canada and Australia, as being among the most open and attractive places for highly-skilled people to want to move," it said.